BY: Phathu Luvhengo

Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi told social welfare organisations that budget cuts would be stopped immediately and that the NGOs would be paid by May 15.

Lesufi and social development MEC Mbali Hlope said this after engaging with the non-profit organisation sector on Thursday.

Gauteng NGOs were last month sent letters by the department of social development (DSD), about cuts in their funding, with some budgets slashed by as much as 61%.

Some of the NGOs’ funding applications were declined, meaning they would not be funded by the department this financial year.

On Thursday, Lesufi said he had had a session with Hlope and other officials from her department. He said it was decided that every NGO should be paid what was due to them by May 15.

“By May 15 they must get what is due to them, what was due to them before this decision was taken and a new addendum with those that have signed a service-level agreement must be attached, signed and finalised so that the sector can proceed,” he said.

After the meeting between the premier and the department, it was agreed that the premier would call an emergency meeting of the provincial budget committee to give the department the required funds to pay to the priority areas.

This was the root of the problem resulting in the reprioritisation of funds.

“I hope that you will agree that we need to audit everyone dealing with this work, not with the intention to close but to check the impact and the return on investment on the R2.4bn that we are investing in this sector,” he said.

Gauteng premier added that there was a perception created in the written documents submitted to the NGOs that they were cutting budgets.

Gauteng premier acknowledged the confusion and misunderstanding and apologised to NGOs for the anxiety and tension many organisations would have gone through.

“Those that felt their jobs would be threatened and that they might be those that their jobs have been cut — they must be reversed and those people should be employed immediately.

“When we receive the outcome of the audit of this sector, we have to reconvene and say how we reposition ourselves given the challenges,” he said.


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